Friday, July 14, 2017

Babies and Writing Conferences: Do They Mix?

A few months ago, a war broke out in a Facebook group over one very heated question. Should writers be allowed to bring their babies and young children to conferences?



This is especially relevant since I write children's books. Banning children from a conference full of children's writers seems strange, to say the least. But if any of you have ever sat in church or a public performance with a crying baby in the audience, you know why they aren't customarily allowed.



Still, many moms believe it excludes those who are economically disadvantaged. In other words, if a single mom can't afford childcare for her infant/toddler, she misses out on an important career-building opportunity.



Other conference attendees passionately argue against children at conferences, comparing it to bringing a child to the office. It is, they say, a professional setting, not a daycare.



But there are some documented benefits of allowing children at business conferences, including the publicity that comes with being mom-friendly. Experts say it will attract more women for those conferences struggling to get better attendance numbers.



There is, of course, the option of providing childcare so moms can actually enjoy the sessions without the stress of keeping someone quiet. Some organizations even specialize in offering childcare services for conferences. Of course, that costs money...and many conferences have to weigh whether the investment is worth it for higher attendance numbers.



What do you think? Should conferences allow little ones or should it be an adults-only zone?

22 comments:

  1. As one who has never had kids, it would be a major distraction for me. It is indeed a business setting. If the conference did have child care, that would be a plus. But sorry, I'd have to say it's not a good idea.

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    1. I haven't seen child care offered very often. I guess the conference has to see the expense as a way to boost ticket sales...probably at a lot of mom-geared conferences you'll see it.

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  2. I've never had kids either, but I agree there should be somewhere for the kids to stay while the parents are at the conference. This way, the kids can play and interact.

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    1. Some have questioned why someone would pay to attend a conference (which is expensive) if they didn't have the money for childcare. But there are a lot of conferences that offer scholarships and financial assistance.

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  3. I think providing free child care for those who must bring their children would be the way to go - that way it doesn't preclude a single mom from attending and the children won't distract other attendees who deserve to get what they need from the conference without being distracted by kids.

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    1. But they'd have to pay someone to watch the children, so it would have to be built into the ticket prices.

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  4. I think it should be adults-only. Leave the kids at home. How does this writer hope to network if they have to watch their kids after all the panels? Why go to the conference at all then?

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  5. Adults only..... Hovever I've been there--a single mother with limited funds, so there's something to be said for providing child care during the day for those writers who would otherwise be unable to attend. Maybe add a few dollars to the cost of the conference to help our fellow writers and sisters who are struggling to make it in today's women-unfriendly financial world? Just a thought.

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  6. I just wrote a really long and angry post that I then deleted (it's a button topic for me).

    Short version: all workplaces should be more flexible with childcare. We, as a society, are destroying ourselves by how we overwork parents and mistreat children.

    I don't have the energy to argue about it today.

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  7. I can't really see how much a mother saddled with a child under the age of 21 is going to get out of a conference....or the people sitting behind, beside or in front of her for that matter.

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  8. I agree with Karen Walker--free day care to keep the children away from the goings on might be the solution. I would never expect children to be present at a writer's conference--or retreat.

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  9. Ditto on any adult-only conferences. Moms need to be able to concentrate on the writing.

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  10. Adult only. If you have a child and need to be at a work conference, find childcare. I never saw anyone bring in kids to our legal education seminars! And many of my colleagues were parents.

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  11. I agree with the idea of having child care, free if possible, which of course might increase the cost of the conference. But little ones would distract me. It's a tough decision.

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  12. It's nice to have childcare available, but if it's not, then bring on the kids. Make allowances for moms who can't attend otherwise. When my children were young, I didn't get to go many places because I was responsible for my kids almost constantly and didn't have the money for a sitter.

    Love,
    Janie

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  13. Now, I think professional women have focused on their careers, and had kids later, so it would seem that more conferences would zero in on that and provide day care so they can gain better attendance. If you would have asked me this 20 years ago, I would have said an emphatic, "leave the kiddies at home". Happy Friday!

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  14. We all have choices to make in life. I gave up a good-paying job to be home with my three children. When I went back to work, my children went to school and they were not part of my work life. I do not believe in children in the office or at conferences. Sorry, but I can tell you even now as the full-time babysitter for my young grandson, you cannot successfully multi-task with children. Children are a distraction and not just for the mom.

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  15. Hi Stephanie - certainly they distract me - but on the other hand I've never had them, and thus could lead my life without that worry ... I can't really comment - cheers Hilary

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  16. It never occurred to me that a mom attending a conference would even consider bringing a child. And I'm the mother of ten, so it's not like I'm anti-kid or anything, but I'd never think of taking a child of any age to a professional event like this. And not knowing who'd be watching my child at the daycare, if it were provided, I wouldn't be comfortable leaving them there either. Just a bad idea all the way around- no and double no--sorry.

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  17. Hi, Stephanie - I agree with many of your readers who have taken a middle ground, voting for childcare services at conferences. That would seem to be a win-win!

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  18. I don't have children. And, I have to admit, they would distract me. I am all for having a childcare at the conference!

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  19. I don't have kids either, but I have a lot of friends with young kids and they have to miss out on opportunities because of it. I think offering childcare, or at the very least some sort of a "crying room" for moms to take their children, is a decent compromise. It gives parents a chance to develop professionally.

    But there is also the slippery slope problem of what to do with the kids during things like conference luncheons, etc.

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